Bright Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and the moon shine from the eastern sky at 4:45 a.m. this morning as seen from the Chicago area. (Click the image to see it larger.) Jupiter and Mars are emerging from solar conjunction and appearing higher in the east each morning. Mars’ eastward orbital motion carries it farther from Jupiter each day. This morning the pair is nearly six degrees apart.
Mercury makes a brief appearance in the morning sky then moves back into bright sunlight.
The waning crescent moon is nearly 8 degrees below Jupiter and about 6 degrees to the lower right of Mars. Mercury is 9 degrees to the lower left of the moon and 9 degrees to the lower left of Mars. Notice the earthshine on the moon. Sunlight reflected from a nearly full Earth, as seen from the moon, gently illuminates the night portion of the moon. This similar effect occurs here when the moon is nearly full. The full moon’s light gently illuminates the ground.